The final piece of the Rail Yard District’s development puzzle has fallen into place, with a Nashville-based company pledging to create a music and events venue at the Dennis + Ives site. Marathon Live, which offers full venue management, will build and operate a previously unknown space for concerts, weddings, galas, parties and other functions.
“We are very pleased to have this development with Dennis + Ives,” said Jeff Edwards, chairman of the Rail Yard District Business Council. “We believe this will be a benefit to the yard district and help launch future developments that will attract visitors and investment to the district.”
Although the Rail Yard District brand was officially established in 2018, the area has a long history as the heart of Jacksonville’s transportation and industrial area. Before freeways covered large parts of downtown Jacksonville, dozens of railroad lines ran through the area, and many closed warehouses in the district have loading docks that back up to old railroad lines that are now overgrown. The district is bounded by I-10 to the south, I-95 to the east, Old Kings Road to the west, and Huron Street to the north.
The Rail Yard District seems tailor-made for Marathon Live’s unique approach to events. Their very first event space, called Marathon Music Works, is a repurposed automobile manufacturing plant in Nashville that was originally built in the early 20th century. Since 2011, the company has developed four additional event locations, in Kansas City, Chattanooga, Birmingham and Little Rock. Several of these sites have been adaptive reuses of old industrial buildings, while others have involved new construction.
“This is a basic build for us,” said Jeremy Hicks, head of ticketing and branding for Marathon Live. Hicks said Marathon Live is very selective about where it chooses to expand, but the owners “had their eye on Jacksonville for a long time.”
“We never try to enter a new market and compete with sites doing similar things,” Hicks said. “We are trying to come in and fill a void. Jacksonville has a great venue music ecosystem, and this will only strengthen that.
Marathon Live manages all aspects of the events it organizes, from ticketing to staffing to marketing. Its halls are considered medium-sized, with a capacity of 1,200 to 1,700 standing spectators. In contrast, Daily’s Place holds 5,500, the Florida Theater 1,900, and the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena holds 15,000.
In addition to traditional events like concerts and weddings, Marathon Live prides itself on creating memorable and unique experiences. Some events featured on their website include a silent disco, in which all attendees wear headphones to minimize disruption to the neighborhood, and a balloon fashion show, where all clothing was made from balloons. Marathon Live venues also hosted food events, such as a Bacon and Bourbon festival, and a showcase event for Triumph Motorcycles.
Dennis + Ives’ event space will complement existing Rail Yard District institutions such as the Jacksonville Farmer’s Market, the quirky and quirky Eco Relics boutique and several breweries.
The unnamed concert hall is included in Phase 1 of Dennis + Ives’ development plan, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2022. But it won’t remain unnamed for long. “We are planning a Place Name campaign,” Hicks said. “We would like the city of Jacksonville to help us name this thing.”
By Windy Taylor
Resident Community News